Woman of More Than a Certain Age Exits American Folk Art Museum

by Linda Umans

Slingbacks and clingy skirt
clop-clopping toward the train
seeing myself ridiculous,
dressed-up horse on a
dusty Sicilian road.

Rolling hips, sexual
interest an absentee,
not shocking these days, but
vivid for the sad ride home.
Too bad I’m just recalling
a Leonard Cohen lyric,
now mine, the horror 
and comfort of I’ll
never have to lose it again.


Still 
maybe 
many clouds to come
for me
in the C train container
before it becomes a coral reef.

Or maybe 
this imagined end: 

I can take a seat, 
be a George Segal figure
reading eternally,
while sea bass, bluefish, flounder,
mussels, swim
attach around.

Linda Umans taught for many years in the public schools of New York City where she lives and writes. Recent publications include poems in Spillway, Composite {Arts Magazine}, DIALOGIST, The Maine Review, Gris-Gris, The Broadkill Review, 2 Bridges Review, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Seneca Review, and pieces in Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.

When We Were Angels

by Natalie Marino

That morning when the window
was so drenched with sun

we thought some things do last
forever, that our mouths

would not become
hard like bone.

Our red sleds rode
down  down  down

the slippery snow—
it was perfect

like California’s sweet
strawberries in winter.

Our bodies will remember
for us when we find our former

selves in the gray silence
of old photographs.

We will fill the empty spaces
with the loud colors of paper

marigolds.

Natalie Marino is a poet, physician, and mother. Her work appears in Barren Magazine, Capsule Stories, Dust Poetry Magazine, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Leon Literary Review, Literary Mama, Moria Online, and elsewhere. She also reads poetry submissions for Bracken Magazine. She lives in California with her husband and two daughters.

The Summer Watermelon’s Green

by Natalie Marino

for my mother, Cindy Marlene Marino

tiger stripes
made it halfway
between wild animal
and primordial tree.

You cut into
the red heart
of its flesh
and it called you

from the Mexican
summer, so hot
that the rain rose
above the street soon

after it fell.
You thirsted
for its cool water
even after

you were warned
of the dysentery.
Now the butterflies
start their migration

to fields of flowers,
leaving you alone.
You think back
to that season

of quiet eating
when no one
needed to discuss
the ends of evenings.

Natalie Marino is a poet, physician, and mother. Her work appears in Barren Magazine, Capsule Stories, Dust Poetry Magazine, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Leon Literary Review, Literary Mama, Moria Online, and elsewhere. She also reads poetry submissions for Bracken Magazine. She lives in California with her husband and two daughters.

Girl Group Collect

by Jason Myers

For the girl groups of the 1960s
I give you praise. Their love-haunted joy
hurled, pled & pitched in perfect harmonies
puts a spell on me & my light-climbed days.
Ronettes, Vandallas, Shangri-Las alloy
the forlorn, odd, unexpected delights
of rejected boys & Saturday nights.
Though their cares appear small, I hear in each
aria about breaking up, going
steady the sum total of what we need,
why we’re made. To matter. To reach
into the dark, the hurt, the dumb – knowing
our failed flesh is your means of grace. You feed
us music, milk, holy bread, holy blood.

Jason Myers eats strawberries for breakfast and edits EcoTheo Review. He parents and partners in central Texas where he is a candidate for holy orders in the Episcopal Church.

Cohabitation, With Moss

by Peach Delphine

Peeling paper spirals of mango
skins in one bucket, flesh in another, 
great grandmother at the table with steaming coffee,
small like me, gliding blade in hand "Child,
mind you don't cut yourself" juice dripping 
down my wrists, removing the boundary, 
interior becoming exterior, 
the sweetness of night, bitter of day.

Linkage of edge, hand, wrist, elbow,
heart of palm split from the body, the trunk
splayed open, still singing of birds in its crown,
bats in its fronds, a hive of bees shaken loose,
the heart chunked into cook pot, in a sky
without chorus or cloud, turkey buzzards circling,
far above, shoulder on a low fire, clear smoke
clear sky, cowpeas simmering, cornbread 
going into the skillet, a prayer unspoken,
the heart in the black pot, the iron mouth
swallowing me, swallowing my heart,
"Child, mind you don't cut yourself"
palmetto draws the breeze.

Sifting wave, the body without restraint,
breathing shade, catbird flipping leaves,
the form of tradition is not what made,
the making cannot be claimed, of self, erosion
by water and wind, polishing the shell,
bone haunted, word contains the breath,
windbound, unable to flee, measuring
damage by what we do not hear, by what becomes 
translucent, glass of emptiness, we cannot define
the taste of absence, salt, sour orange,
black coffee, cane syrup charting the tongue,
we cannot define what our hands hold,
wrists balanced precariously as the blade 
sings of the heart sliced from the tree, 
mangos filling the bucket.

We live with what has been done and said,
an extra plate at the table, litany of scar,
lacerations of tongue, somewhere, near by,
moving closer, catbird mewling, thicket 
growing, rain cooking up over flat woods,
horizon of pine and cypress, the weight
of cicada singing heavy on the breeze, 
flashing teeth of lightning chewing 
at our wounds, absence arrives, soft footed 
as possum, relentless as indigo snake, 
silent as barred owl, consuming us 
piece by piece, the heart swallowed whole.

Peach Delphine is a queer poet from Tampa, Florida. Former cook infatuated with what remains of the undeveloped Gulf coast.

Transitional Weather

by Peach Delphine

Relentless sky burnishing us
into shade, thicket comforts heart, 
Gulf the promise of tongue, hammock 
an elevation we sing from, 
nave of cypress and fern.

Roof knows intimacy of rain
percolated off the sea, returning 
to us, dripping from brittle cabbage palms,
settling in sand, seeping through limestone, 
eroding our bones, dissolving  memory.

Rain is a liberator, together
we return to the flowing,
brine submerging our hands,
shaking free of the woodstork,
linear, then fluid, balancing warily
across puddles and ruts
shell road, steaming after clouds
spend themselves into dissipation.

Rain is a language of those gone
before us, into shadow, sea swallowed,
middens and hammocks longing
for lost songs, palmetto restless
in their absence, the first shower
redeems tree frogs, having endured
dry season, a vast singing commences.

Taste of sky and a chorus
of small voices, liquid calling of grackles,
ink pooled then taken to flight, 
morning rain, wiregrass 
thick with spider webs collapsing.
Rain is the sleep of clouds
come to restore flow
in the diminishing aquifer, rain
is cottonmouth swallowing
its own tail, body of iron,
body of cloud, sparking wildly.

Rain is the last libation poured 
from the blue bowl before our hands 
go cold, our tongues reduced to ash,
clouds flowering wetness, fragmentation 
of self, so much longing lifted skyward into cold,
approaching emptiness, frozen
shards spilling, precipitation is how we name
the light flowing through water, from sea 
to sky to sink then the long darkness
of karst and aquifer.

Peach Delphine is a queer poet from Tampa, Florida. Former cook infatuated with what remains of the undeveloped Gulf coast.

Sandhill Crane Migration

by Jessica Poli

                  Kearney, Nebraska

No, this was not the edge of the world
though I thought it might be:
cranes lifting off the wide, silty river
in a huge mass, churning, shifting
as the light shifted, the sun making its slow way 
to the water. I didn’t expect
the tears that came—or not the tears themselves,
but the reason for them, this witnessing
of birds’ bodies huddled together warmly on the water 
and flying in close lines along the horizon, 
a sight which suddenly raised
a wild jealousy in me. 
To be close to that many bodies, 
to feel someone else’s strong wing 
brush against your soft underbelly—
I wanted that. 
I wanted to be jostled in line at the grocery store
waiting to buy milk and peanut butter,
to get lost in a sweaty crowd 
at The Bourbon listening to a band 
that only knew four songs.
No, this wasn’t the edge of the world,
but it felt like we’d been coming to it again and again
for the last year, getting closer
to the sharp edge of ourselves, that place
where we can stand no more, 
where there’s an audible snap 
and then all the grief floods in. 
The water was low on the river.
Before I left, I stared at it
moving across the silt that gathered
around the bridge’s piers.
Two cranes flew overhead and called out,
and the sound echoed in me.

Jessica Poli is the author of four chapbooks and co-editor of the collection More in Time: A Tribute to Ted Kooser (University of Nebraska Press, 2021). Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Southern Indiana Review, The Adroit Journal, and Redivider, among other places. She is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, founder and editor of Birdfeast, and Assistant Poetry Editor of Prairie Schooner.

Tide

by Hulian Zhang

Bit by bit
Bite by bite

The invisible was swallowing
I can hear it masticating

That must be the last intact part of my skin
Because from where I feel the pain
 
I was waiting for it to finish the last chew
I was waiting with an unprecedented peaceful despair  
 
Quiet so quiet
Slight by slight

Here comes a light
The warmth from my friends’ chests, the beating tide

Hulian Zhang (she/her) is currently a PhD candidate in Medical Ethics and Law at Newcastle Law School, Newcastle University (UK). This is her first time publicly sharing her poems.

Rain in Clouds

by Hulian Zhang

The sky must be grey
I am hiding under my duvet

I hear it cries
Sounds not like a sunrise 

I am hiding under my duvet 
As if I were above the clouds 

I thought that the rain was irrelevant                    
But the pillow is soaked 

Clouds and darkness surround me

Hulian Zhang (she/her) is currently a PhD candidate in Medical Ethics and Law at Newcastle Law School, Newcastle University (UK). This is her first time publicly sharing her poems.

Solaris

by Megan Burns


outside the lining of possible outcomes
tether dreaming, the way grass dances under 
the surface of water, and the film a poem, you attach
paper shreds to the end of the vent 
in your spaceship room, inside the vacuum 
what you desire is the rustle of leaves
a leaving of natural behind, it tried to silent
inside me so many songs of longing to bring
you back, when is lift off, we ask
and translate it to me
it’s already occurred 
it’s already happening 
we’ve already left this place behind

the way you get to throw off the cloak 
of being human in the end, a finale so big
it takes all of your breath away

Megan Burns is the publisher at Trembling Pillow Press (tremblingpillowpress.com). She is the co-director of the New Orleans Poetry Festival (nolapoetry.com) and has been hosting the Blood Jet Poetry Reading Series in New Orleans for the last six years. She has been most recently published in Jacket Magazine, Callaloo, New Laurel Review, Dream Pop, and Diagram. Her poetry and prose reviews have been published in Tarpaulin Sky, Gently Read Lit, Big Bridge, and Rain Taxi. She has three books Memorial + Sight Lines (2008), Sound and Basin (2013) and Commitment (2015) published by Lavender Ink. Her recent chapbooks include: her Twin Peaks chap, Sleepwalk With Me (Horse Less Press, 2016), Beneath the Drift (Red Mare, 2019) and FUCK LOVE: I’m sorry someone hurt you (Shirt Pocket Press, 2019). Her fourth collection, BASIC PROGRAMMING, was published by Lavender Ink in 2018. Her forthcoming collection is called PLURALITY.